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Stress About Money Is Literally Costing You Hours of Sleep

August 1, 2019

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Student loans, upcoming bills, credit card debt, overdraft fees, job prospects. A pressure cooker of financial anxiety is keeping millennials up at night, worrying when they should be sleeping.

More than half of millennials between the ages of 23 and 38 said their finances cause them to feel stress and anxiety nearly every single day, according to a new Varo Money survey. That stress is highest among women, with 59% reporting this type of unrelenting worry, compared to 50% of men.

They have good reason to stress. One reason? Lots of debt. Americans under the age of 35 are carrying an average debt of $67,400, the bulk of it from not just student loans but credit cards too. 

money stress millennials

Tossing and turning 

One in four millennials in our survey reported stressing about finances constantly, that the worry is always on their minds. More than 30% say they experience financial anxiety at least every hour or more.

That includes those night time hours that are supposed to be spent sleeping. Instead of counting sheep, millennials are counting money, or the lack thereof.

More than a third of millennials survey by Varo (35%) who are experiencing financial pressure and worry are losing an hour or more of sleep at night because of that stress. Another 10% say they are losing two to three hours of sleep and another 8% say financial stress is costing them four hours of sleep or more.

Stress affects all parts of life

They are feeling the strain in all aspects of their lives—52% of millennials say the stress is damaging their health and 47% say the pressure makes them want to give up on their dreams. Nearly half of the people surveyed say financial anxiety is getting in the way of accomplishing their career goals and 47% say it even makes it hard to invest in relationships.

More than half of the survey respondents (55%) say their financial instability is preventing them from settling down. Nearly half (49%) receive some sort of financial assistance from their parents, whether it’s for rent, bills, car payments or groceries, and 61% said they’ve lived with their parents at some point as an adult. And 31% say they worry regularly about their student loans and other debts.

A matrix of worry

But money isn’t the only thing stressing out this generation (54% said it was a daily worry.) Respondents also ranked these worries the biggest everyday causes of stress and anxiety: 

  • Relationships or family concerns: 43%

  • Health problems: 31%

  • Finding a job I love: 31%

  • Demands at work: 29%

  • Social media: 22%

In addition to paying down student debt and managing expenses, 62% of those surveyed said they’ve had to cut back or give something up in the past year just to be able to pay for a tank of gas. And 14% have had to do this almost every month.

Another money headache hitting this generation hard is bank fees — 41% of respondents overdrafted their bank account in the past year and got hit with a fee. While 20 percent of those people overdrafted only once or twice, 13% did it five or more times.

The fees aren’t small either. Of those who were penalized for overdrafting in the past year, 41% paid more than $100 in fees and 15% paid more than $200. 

The financial state of this generation, combined with changing societal norms and a focus on intangible benefits like freedom and flexibility have reshaped the goals and outlook for many millennials. Read more from our survey about how millennials are reshaping the American Dream.

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